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Water use restricted in NZ's parched capital

By New Zealand correspondent Dominique Schwartz, Friday March 15, 2013 - 19:07 EDT

Stringent water restrictions will come into effect in Wellington at the weekend as northern New Zealand struggles with its worst drought in decades.

New Zealand primary industries minister Nathan Guy on Friday declared the entire North Island officially in drought.

"It's probably about 30 years since we've had a drought of this size covering all of the North Island," Mr Guy said.

The government is offering affected farmers financial help and counselling services.

Dr Brett Mullan from the National Climate Centre says it is the most severe drought in the north and north-east of the country in more than 75 years and could become more common.

"Basically the tropics expand under global warming, high pressure belts move down and intensify in the summer," he said.

The ANZ bank estimates the big dry is likely to cost the country at least $1 billion.

Rare water restrictions - including a complete ban on all forms of garden watering - are being introduced in Wellington, which has not had any rain for six weeks and has supplies for less than 20 days.

The last dry spell of that duration was in the 1870s.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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